Sally Trent has an illegitimate child, but cannot support her and gives the baby up for adoption. The father, Michael Gardner, leaves for China not knowing about the baby, and she assumes he has abandoned her for life. She gets a job as a torch singer, changes her name to Mimi Benton, and becomes notorious for her drinking and philadering. Mimi fills in on a children's radio program as the character "Aunt Jenny," singing and telling bedtime stories, and eventually uses the airtime to find her long lost daughter, part with her wild lifestyle, and reunite with Michael. Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Well, I'll tell you what happened to her. While you were touring China, she went through hell. It's a nice place, you must go there someday.
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A woman made hard by the circumstances of her life
For only a 72 minute movie Torch Singer packs quite a lot into the film with Claudette Colbert playing the starring role of an unwed mother who is forced to give up her daughter as she can't locate the baby's father David Manners and his rich family won't give her the time of day. She supports herself by becoming a nightclub singer and according to a recent biography of Claudette Colbert she actually sung her own numbers which were written by songwriting team of Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger for the film. Claudette's scenes with her child, her prospective in-laws and with the nuns running the adoption facility are heartbreaking and touching on melodrama.
A case of 'mike fright' scares off the prospective host of a children's radio program and sultry torch singer Claudette substitutes as the story lady who sings lullabies and tells fairy tales. Which gives her a day time career as well as a nighttime one as long as she can keep the secret. In the meantime the show affects her and decides to seek her child.
Claudette proves to have a nice style as a singer much as Susan Hayward did when played Lillian Roth in I'll Cry Tomorrow. And she treads on Barbara Stanwyck territory as a woman made hard by the circumstances of her life.
Ricardo Cortez who after the silent screen days ended where he played Latin lovers as a poor man's Rudolph Valentino, in sound either played smart alecks or downright heels. I was fully expecting him to be a heel in this film, but he turns out to be a nice guy as a radio executive who sympathizes with Colbert and her situation.
Lyda Roberti also makes an appearance here playing a fellow unwed mother who rooms with Colbert for a while. Her character has all too little time in Torch Singer, I wish we saw more of her.
Claudette Colbert whose career in 1933 was really beginning to take off moved a bit higher with this film. It holds up very well for today's audience.
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